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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 7:115-123 (2009)  -  DOI:

Effects of climate change on life history: implications for extinction risk in mammals

Joanne L. Isaac*

Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4819, Australia

ABSTRACT: Global climate change is predicted to result in the decline and/or extinction of a large number of animal populations worldwide, and the risk of extinction is likely to be greatest for those species already vulnerable—i.e. those with limited climatic range and/or restricted habitat requirements. To date, predictive models have failed to take into account the fact that climate change will alter many of the key life history and ecological parameters which determine a species’ inherent risk of extinction, such as body mass, size of geographic range and a suite of reproductive traits. Herein, I review contemporary research on the effects of climate change on extinction risk in mammals, focusing on the capacity of climate change to modify those life history traits that inherently alter species’ extinction risk. This review finds strong evidence that climate change has already had marked effects on key life history traits in many mammals. These changes have resulted in both negative and positive effects on reproductive success and adult and offspring survival, with implications for extinction risk in affected species. While the capacity of climate change to alter life history traits in mammals is clear, there is currently little research to clarify how these changes have influenced population growth and dynamics. Other currently overlooked areas of research are also identified.

KEY WORDS: Global warming · Environmental variation · Reproductive success · Geographic range

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Cite this article as: Isaac JL (2009) Effects of climate change on life history: implications for extinction risk in mammals. Endang Species Res 7:115-123.

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